In 2016, more than 519,000 people took part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch – an event that helps build a picture of garden wildlife in the UK.
Last year’s most frequently sighted bird was the house sparrow (although the starling was the most commonly seen bird in Northern Ireland). Other popular species included the blackbird (appearing in 88% of gardens) and the long-tailed tit.
This year’s event takes place from 28-30 January and there are a number of things you can do to prepare for it. Once you’ve done your bit for the count, put your photography skills to the test.
- Now that naturally occurring supplies of seeds, berries and insects are running low, most birds will come to feeders. To attract the greatest number use quality feeders and roofed tables (to prevent food from going stale).
- If you’re having trouble identifying a garden visitor, enter its size, location, colour of feathers and shape of beak into the RSPB’s online bird identifier (rspb.org.uk). Alternatively, take a look at Bird Id (birdid.co.uk).
- To get you in the mood for the big event the RSPB has created an hour-long birdsong track, featuring a symphony of garden sounds. It’s a great way of listening to the dawn chorus from your bed (see rspb.org.uk).
- You don’t have to own a garden to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB is happy to accept records from other locations such as parks and roof terraces. To find out more visit rspb.org.uk.